Port Websites

Ships carry 90% of the world’s trade. This amounts to over 7 billion tonnes of cargo annually and the safe passage of cargo vessels, their crew and the millions of pounds worth of cargo onboard is of paramount importance.

Seaports around the world are a key part of the modern global trade infrastructure. Each port is unique owing to its geographical location, size, facilities, the types of cargo which can be handled and any country specific operational differences. There are many thousands of ports and harbours globally and the navigation of international shipping ports is complex and can be potentially hazardous.

To ensure maximum efficiency and safety when entering ports, harbours and terminals, it is vital that the Shipmaster has full access to the latest and most accurate port data highlighting all the facilities that are available. This data can come in the form of port guides, port plans and port directories, both in print and via websites. A port database will contain information on anything from approach information to cargo types, making it a key knowledge and planning tool.

Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of UKHO (United Kingdom Hydrographic Office), asserts that ‘maritime navigation is undergoing a fundamental shift, from paper to digital’ and with this comes a new era of digital port information products and services.

There are a number of websites with online guides to port entry displaying a range of information. They offer immediate access to the very latest port, terminal and harbour information. Among these port websites is findaport.com which offers easily accessible, comprehensive and detailed information on over 9,000 ports, harbours, cargo terminals and tanker facilities worldwide. The data also includes over 4,700 port plans, photos, maps and terminal diagrams, together with general descriptions of the facility, pre-arrival requirements, maximum size, berthing operations, safety and security, shore and cargo facilities and regulations as well as other local information.

Shipping guides and port and harbour entry are just two examples of maritime information increasingly found online. Digital services are also being developed and launched that enable the latest and highest quality information to be provided for effective global maritime navigation at the touch of a button. Technology is also utilised to assist mariners and shipping organisations in improving their decision-making when planning and undertaking a voyage.

For example, the UKHO (http://www.ukho.gov.uk) produces a range of products under the name Admiralty. Admiralty publish digital charts, such as raster charts, that aid navigation and are exact copies of their paper counterparts. They also provide a digital list of lights, including light buoys and signals, as well as an electronic charting service known as ECDIS, ‘an easy to manage, low administration, worldwide solution to navigating with electronic charts’. e-Navigator is another service that offers real-time maritime information such as tide, weather and related data. Other new digital applications are also becoming available from a range of online sources such as port databases, digital port catalogues and port planning tools that give quick, accessible information to plan and execute safe voyages.

Written by Andy Jones for Shipping Guides who offer information about port websites across the world. For more information visit: http://www.portinfo.co.uk/links/port-websites.html They also offer information about maritime piracy which can be seen at: http://www.portinfo.co.uk/maps-and-atlases/maritime-piracy-incidents-map.html

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